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    « Aviation Professionalism? Control Tower Unstaffed and Cop Shoots Out Airliner Window | Main | Review of PiperSport and Cessna SkyCatcher Avionics and Photos »


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    Mike Danko

    Max- Aircraft with glass cockpits may indeed be used more for business travel than would similar aircraft with legacy instrumentation. But that doesn't mean the glass cockpit safety record shouldn't be compared to that of the legacy aircraft population as a whole. A glass cockpit "invites" a pilot to attempt business trips in adverse conditions -- conditions that perhaps would have resulted in a cancellation if the particular pilot had only a legacy aircraft at his disposal. That factor needs to be accounted for, and we need to be careful not to wash it out of the analysis.

    More here => http://www.aviationlawmonitor.com/2010/03/articles/ntsb/ntsb-glass-cockpits-associated-with-higher-rate-of-fatal-accidents/


    It would be interesting to compare the accident rates for things where glass cockpits add functionality (e.g. instrument approaches, weather avoidance, CFIT and midair collisions) and things where they don't (e.g. mechanical problems, mishandling, fuel mismangement etc.)

    My suspicion is that we get false comfort from glass cockpits because they protect us from *some* risks but, in fact, they don't protect us from the risks that cause the most accidents.

    In other words, while extra training on glass cockpits would be a Good Thing, it needs to be matched with good basic handling, airmanship, fuel management and so on.

    I've know Cirrus pilots who almost never 'fly' the plane. They rely on the autopilot and avionics to do the work. This is fine if they have good flying skills in the background but, quite frankly, they don't. A couple of people I know probably couldn't recover safely from a stall or do a steep turn on instruments. They think I'm mad because I like to hand fly the plane most of the time.

    The risk is that if you fly once or twice a month in a very sophisticated plane and all you do is go from one big airport to another with IFR flight plans, everything looks great and you feel like a shit-hot pilot until something goes wrong and your lack of real currency catches up with you.

    I've had alternator failures, mag failures, PFD and MFD failures, unserviceable autopilot failures etc. It really does happen. I had to hand-fly into Le Bourget single pilot IFR when my autopilot failed. My big fear is that my ability to do this and keep my skills current is fading over time.

    I suppose another concern is with differences between glass cockpit systems. I'm very comfortable with Avidyne + Garmin 430s and some of those skills are transferable to the G1000 but it still took me four hours or so to get a basic level of familiarity with it when I flew with you in January. I suspect 40-50 hours plus lots of ground study is required for complete fluency. But then they go and fit Avidyne R9 systems and you have to start again. Hmmm.

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